20 July 2024, 13:50
By Furniture News Dec 21, 2022

The Big Question: Who/what do you see as your biggest competitor?

What do you think? From emerging trends to the latest business principles, Furniture News is setting out to gauge the trade’s feelings on a variety of industry-specific topics. Today, we’re asking our panel: Who/what do you see as your biggest competitor?

Mike Whitman, head of product, Iconography: It’s not so much a single company, as much as a concept. Traditionally, omnichannel retail has been supported by a hodgepodge of systems that are trying to do things that they simply weren’t designed to do. We’ve all seen the EPoS system that is trying to provide ecommerce data to a website, but doesn’t store images so those are done elsewhere – or an accounts package that is being used to drive stock levels. Our challenge is to show furniture retailers that unified commerce is a better way of doing business. We aren’t simply offering a one-stop-shop, but a different way of thinking – a single digital operations platform that encompasses EPoS, RMS, ecommerce and CRM. Our competitor is the Frankenstein’s monster bolted together out of mismatched parts. 

Steve Pickering, MD, Sussex Beds: Over the next 12 months, our biggest competitor will be the return of aviation and the holiday industry. As it gradually reopens, it will inevitably take a bigger share of consumer spend, which will have an impact on available funds to spend toward other big-ticket purchases 

Paul Wray, MD, Modern Outlook Furniture: With Covid, and the borders closed here in China, my competitors are very few. This is giving me a strong position in the market to maximise on new product development and sales here

Royce Clark, MD, Grampian Furnishers: Some online-only companies have not updated their pricing to take into account the shipping surcharges and overall price increases, so price matching – and trying to explain the issue to customers –  has become a real problem

Wendy Martin Green, chairman, Peter Green Furnishers: The web is definitely giving us all a run for our money, but in many ways it’s also our ally. Our in-store marketing surveys show that around 40% of our customers visit our website before they visit us in person – and they have checked out our competitors online too, which means by the time they reach our doorstep they’re more ready to buy

John Conroy, BDM, Morrisofa Europe: The fellow shippers that are competing for container space out of Shanghai – everyone involved in supply chain is longing for a return to normality, both on rates and availability! 

John Northwood, trade agent: Anyone that sells the same product. The large companies have the reach with their marketing, but we are also seeing a lot of micro businesses starting in the sector, because of the advanced technology to print wallpapers and fabrics digitally

Steve Adams, CEO, Mattress Online: This is an ever-changing field, especially online. Importantly, there is enough business for all – the bricks-and-mortar nationals are an aspirational competitor who consistently do a fantastic job at retaining market share

Peter Harding, MD, Fairway Furniture: The internet is the single biggest threat to bricks-and-mortar retailers, so you could say that is the biggest competitor. In terms of retailers, I admire DFS for their ability to generate new customers, and Furniture Village for their marketing and product range

Rob Walker, MD, Orbital Vision: Our biggest competitor will always be the speed at which technology within the CGI industry develops

Andy Stockwell, buyer/manager, Gardiner Haskins: Wherever your physical location might be, the internet is your biggest competitor because it is accessible from anywhere. Physical retailers should embrace the challenge and at the very least have a clear, functional website that shows what they have to offer. It’s commonplace for consumers to research online before deciding what or where to buy, but furniture and furnishings are a tactile product that most still prefer to try before they buy. They need physical stores to do that, so when they are doing their research online, make sure it’s your website they are using and your store they are buying from

This article featured in the February 2022 edition of Furniture News magazine.

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